Monday, January 31, 2011

Review~Da Tong Steak House

The stereotypical American dinner - steak. I don't eat it ^^; However, last night my cousin had a steak craving so we all trooped down through the cold to the steak house 大統牛排/Da Tong Steak at 樂華/Le Hua Night Market to satisfy said craving.

234台北縣永和市永平路70號 02 2923 4516

檢視較大的地圖

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At Da Tong, they have set meals and an open salad bar, drinks and soup.

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The front door

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Menu on the table. As you can see, the prices are pretty cheap for steak + side + open salad and soup and drink

I got the only seafood option on the menu :P

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The open salad bar. Everything was shredded and fluffy, so you got mostly air when trying to fill your bowl. The corn and peas were frozen, not canned. I know, because they were still half-frozen :/

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The soup pot

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Our table setting. The soup was supposed to be corn chowder (玉米濃湯). There was a distinct lack of corn in the soup...

The wait time was a bit long, but there is something to hold you over while you wait for your food. Enter, the dinner rolls!

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They look so yummy, don't they? They were lightly sweet, very fluffy, and really would have been very good if not for...

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BUTTER! They all had a big pat of butter on the inside!! Now this could either be a bonus or a downfall depending on whether you like butter or not. I do not like the taste of butter, so this was sort of a deal-breaker for me :(

Both my cousins got a steak set with a side of spaghetti

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While I got the double shrimp with a side of spaghetti

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The shrimp was pretty good, though they were stingy with the pepper sauce :(

The spaghetti was a poor imitation of the real thing, with defrosted, frozen vegetables (one of my baby corn stalks was still cold on the inside) and limp noodles.

If you choose not to get a set, you can still use the salad bar and soup and beverages - it will just cost you extra
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NT$60 for the really awful soup and salad? Let us consult the experts on this one...


Don't do it! If you ever feel like having salad and soup, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. Don't waste your money here


Summary:
Price(out of 3): $ (based on my limited knowledge of the average cost of steak)

Food: You get what you pay for

Service(out of 5): *** The staff just takes the order, brings out some bread, then brings out your dish. The wait time is about average for a busy restaurant. Meets the bare minimum standards, so a fairly neutral rating

Overall:
If you are in the mood for some cheap steak late at night, then you might want to swing by here. Otherwise, there are many other cheap eats literally right next door, seeing as how this restaurant is in a night market ;)
If you wanted some soup and salad, run away. Run very far away!

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Review~Ichibankan Tokyo Shabu-Shabu

When the weather is windy and chilly, there is only one thing to do. Warm up from the inside out with hotpot!

Hotpot is super popular in the wintertime because it is widely available, not too expensive (depending on where you go), and is a nice social get-together place for friends to hide from the winter cold.

Ichibankan Tokyo Shabu-Shabu is located directly across the street from SOGO, so it is super close to where I live with my grandparents! We actually go here occasionally, but this is the first time I am writing a review :)




View Larger Map

永和店:中山路一段213號

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Store Front

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Bring your own chopsticks! Ichibankan unfortunately uses disposable chopsticks. The chemicals in the chopsticks are a bigger risk than normal when submerged in boiling water, so I highly recommend bringing your own set. Eco chopsticks are readily available and come in many forms from solid to snap-togethers, twist-togethers, extend-able, with soft cases, card cases, with a spoon, with spoon and fork, etc.!

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Condiments and beverages. The selection was pretty standard. The juice/tea changes from time to time, but is usually artificially flavored and too sweet yet watered down. The coffee is OK - your standard vending machine coffee.

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Standard platter of sides that comes with all orders. The placemats have the menu printed on them. There are many different choices of meats, and you can add individual items such as an extra egg, more meat, more veggies, etc. If you have a larger party you can also order the large party platters that serve big groups!
The price range is mostly between NT$200-NT$300 with some fancier cuts going up to NT$400
After you order your main dish you have the choice of rice, noodles, or rice vermicelli (rice noodles)

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My grandma got chicken. It is one plateful, enough for a meal and not too expensive (basic chicken is around NT$200)

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Fish platter for NT$250. The placemat menu says it contains two types of fish, but I haven't seen that since last summer. I am not sure if it is an availability issue, and money-saving substitution, or what, but having two types of fish makes the meal have more variety and more interesting.
The second photo shows the rice vermicelli I got!

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Ice cream selection. Strawberry, Vanilla, Chocolate, and Taro. There are bowls and cones available inside the freezer. The ice cream is pretty mediocre; quite artificial but not disgustingly so.

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Cold red bean soup for dessert! Not too sweet, but nothing spectacular. Just a basic dessert soup :) In the summer they serve mung bean soup instead, and that is pretty good too.

Summary:
Price(out of 3): $$

Food: Good for the price. I do NOT recommend getting the vegetarian plate because at NT$200 it only contains two pieces each of about 6-8 vegetables. Not worth it! Everything else is fairly reasonable

Service(out of 5): *** The staff just takes the order and cleans up. Not rude, not in the way, not particularly nice, but did change out my soup base for water when I asked; just doing the bare minimum.

Overall:
Good for an occasional outing, though I would not want to eat here too often as the food is not spectacular and the price is not super cheap. You get what you pay for (except in the case of the veggie platter). Remember to bring your own utensils!
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Seafood Spaghetti

My Technical Flats class had a potluck dinner for class, but I hadn't been able to bring anything to share, so I decided to make up for it the week after with this spaghetti! Yes, my class is really lax and fun :D

This is a super-flexible, just make stuff up as you go recipe. I liked the way it turned out ^u^v

Ingredients:
shrimp, peeled, beheaded, de-veined, and lime juiced (any other seafood you may wish to add is fine, too)
diced veggies (I used celery and carrot)
diced onion
1 big can tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste
black pepper
noodles


Directions:
Saute onions in hot oil. Add shrimp and just let them turn red a bit (don't overcook)
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I steamed my veggies beforehand because they are harder, but if you are using softer veggies such as broccoli you don't have to do that
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Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and veggies
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Break up some noodles and throw them in with the sauce. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until noodles are cooked through, stirring occasionally
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Keep stirring occasionally to keep the noodles from sticking. Crack some black pepper on top right before serving!
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Giant Kimchi Flatcake

A delicious and filling meal. Aside from kimchi, you can also add leftover vegetables and other bits and pieces.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Quaker Low Fat Chewy Fruit & Oatmeal Bars

Oatmeal cookies and bars are very common in America. When I made these bars, I brought some to school to share and everybody thought they were really interesting ^u^

My grandma bought a huge drum of Quaker Instant Whole Oats because I had finally almost finished my old one. Unfortunately, I was actually getting sick of oatmeal :P So naturally I had to make them into a dessert!

I went onto the Quaker website and used the recipe for Low Fat Chewy Fruit&Oatmeal Bars. Mostly because it did not require butter/shortening/applesauce/anything else I couldn't easily get my hands on and use all at once. So I went out and bought one container of yogurt and got to work!

In large bowl, combine sugars, yogurt, egg whites, oil, milk, and vanilla; mix well.
I skipped vanilla because I don't know where to get it :P
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In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; mix well.
I skipped salt because I was lazy
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Also check out my oats and raisins
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Add to yogurt mixture; mix well.
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Spread dough onto bottom of ungreased 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack. Cut into bars. Store tightly covered
Or bake in batches in a heart-shaped tin because that's all you have, make up the time and temp in the toaster oven, burn the first batch a couple times, and keep experimenting with subsequent batches until the bars are cooked through. I still haven't perfected the temp and time. It doesn't help that our toaster oven doesn't actually have a temperature setting - it has a watts setting. That is quite inconvenient.
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After they have cooled, cut into pieces and serve! Even though I had to re-bake my bars several times, I think they taste all right!
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Microwave Magic! Maybe...?

Waffles are a funny thing. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, commonly found on the breakfast menu with whipped topping and fruit syrups. Can be made at home for relatively cheap so long as you have a waffle iron and a bit of time.

A waffle iron.

Waffle iron.

Something I am very distinctly lacking at the moment. But, but, but... I LOVE waffles! The vast majority of waffles here are either:
a) The small, hard, crispy kind. Sometimes half-dipped in chocolate. They taste OK, but aren't really the fluffy Belgium waffles I want
b) Really expensive, and usually only available at a sit-down cafe. And even then sometimes they aren't quite like the waffles in America :(

So a while back I bought a Japanese waffle maker that makes waffles in the microwave. It makes one small square waffle at a time. I used my sister's pancake batter recipe and tried it out yesterday morning.

Ingredients:
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Batter:
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Fill the mold with some batter, microwave until it is puffy, then snap the lid on quickly and let it settle! I quickly got bored of plain waffles (I ate the first two to see how it was, and it was not flavorful enough!)

Cinnamon Waffle:
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Latte Waffle:
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pour some latte in....
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added some batter...

filled mold:
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post microwaving:
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snap the lid on:
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Watch Penelope on TV

Turn out the waffle and...
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erm, all the latte stayed on the bottom....

TRY AGAIN!

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Pile of waffles!!

In the end, the waffles ended up being rubbery and heavy. It MIGHT be that I did not microwave long enough... one of the waffles I microwaved too long was sort of crispy like Asian waffles so maybe that is how it is supposed to be? I was hoping for Belgian waffles (lol yea, from a microwave) but I will experiment more. The package that came with the waffle-maker did say to use pancake mix and an egg and some milk. Maybe I should try that next time :P

So, the first experiment was not so successful, but they taste OK with honey :) Will try again in the future!
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